Years earlier, on signing his contract for Metalurh Donetsk in the city of Barcelona, the teenage Yaya was promised by his longstanding agent Dimitri Seluk that he would one day play for the celebrated Catalan club. Finally that day arrived, and following the announcement of Thierry Henry’s arrival, Yaya put pen to paper.
Off the back of a barren season, eclipsed by rivals Real Madrid, a rejuvenated Barcelona went on to win a record six trophies – the first club ever to achieve the sextuple – in Yaya’s second season in Spain. Under Pep Guardiola’s lead Barcelona claimed La Liga, the Copa Del Rey and swept defending champions Manchester United aside to lift the Champions League trophy. More silverware followed with the Supercopa de España, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Strong personal seasons at Olympiakos and Monaco led to Yaya joining Barcelona.
Yaya made his debut in Barca’s opening La Liga match away at Racing Santander and scored his first goal in a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao in September 2007.
A first Champions League strike followed in a 2-0 aggregate quarter-final victory against Schalke 04, as Yaya made over 50 appearances across club and country in a successful debut season.
Yaya made 43 appearances as Barcelona secured the first treble in Spanish history, winning La Liga, the Copa Del Rey and the UEFA Champions League.
Yaya was a regular in a Barcelona team that went unbeaten in 21 consecutive La Liga matches from 13 September 2008 to 14 February 2009, including 18 wins.
He also appeared in all 12 Champions League matches in a range of positions, playing centre-back in the final.
Yaya marked Cristiano Ronaldo and kept a clean sheet, as Barcelona defeated Manchester United 2-0 in Rome in May of 2009.
Yaya was nominated for the UEFA Team of the Year and became the first Ivorian player to win the UEFA Champions League.
Yaya helped Barcelona secure an unprecedented six trophies in the 2009 calendar year, winning the UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and Supercopa de España to complement their Treble.
The midfielder then made 18 league appearances as Barcelona secured a second successive title, breaking the league record by amassing 99 points and losing just once all season.